The Tigers claimed left-handed pitcher Kolton Ingram off waivers from the Angels, according to announcements from both teams. As a corresponding move, Detroit designated utility infielder Nick Maton for assignment. In additional Tigers news, the team announced that right-handed pitcher Devin Sweet has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Toledo.
Ingram was initially selected by the Tigers in the 37th round of the 2019 draft. However, his time with the organization was short-lived. The southpaw was released in July 2020, having made just 15 appearances in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He signed a new deal with the Angels ahead of the 2021 season and eventually worked his way up to the majors in 2023, pitching 5 1/3 innings across three separate stints with the big league club. Although his MLB numbers were disappointing (8.44 ERA, 5.21 SIERA), his performance between Double- and Triple-A was far more impressive. In 61 innings, he pitched to a 2.95 ERA with a 30.2% strikeout rate and a .189 batting average against. He figures to compete with fellow lefty Joey Wentz, as well as righties Miguel Díaz, Beau Brieske, and Brendan White for a spot at the back end of Detroit’s bullpen. The fact that Ingram has option years remaining could work against him; both Díaz and Wentz are out of options.
Maton came to the Motor City as part of the trade package the Tigers acquired from the Phillies in exchange for Gregory Soto. In his lone season with Detroit, Maton appeared in 93 games, primarily at third base but also at second and shortstop. While his versatility was helpful for manager A. J. Hinch, the 26-year-old struggled to contribute at the plate. In 293 plate appearances, he slashed .173/.288/.305, good for a paltry .593 OPS and 67 wRC+. By FanGraphs’ calculation of Wins Above Replacement, only six AL players were less valuable to their clubs in 2023.
Despite his struggles, not all is lost for Maton. In fact, there are several reasons to believe he is due for some positive regression. Both his 13.0% walk rate and 24.9% strikeout rate last season were significantly better than his career totals to date. He also increased his barrel rate from 6.7% to 8.4%. What’s more, his .206 BABIP was unusually low, and he can expect that number to rise in future seasons. Finally, his poor performance at third base, a position he had limited experience playing before this season, dragged down his defensive metrics, and therefore, his overall WAR. For a team in need of a lefty-batting second baseman who can fill in at shortstop, third base, and the corner spots in a pinch, Maton could be worth a shot.
Sweet, a right-handed reliever, made his MLB debut last summer for the Mariners. He was designated for assignment a few weeks later, after which he landed with the Athletics for the final month of the season. Overall, he made seven appearances at the MLB level, where he gave up 10 runs in 8 2/3 innings, and 36 appearances in the minors, where he posted a much prettier 2.25 ERA. The Giants claimed him off of waivers from the A’s in December, and the Tigers subsequently claimed him off of waivers from the Giants a month later. He was designated for assignment again last week to make room for top prospect Colt Keith on the 40-man roster after Keith signed a six-year extension. After bouncing around between four different organizations over the past year, Sweet has finally cleared waivers and will remain in the Tigers organization as additional pitching depth.